December 3, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now

Actually it's Liam who can see clearly.  He always could but after failing two vision screenings at preschool, we took a trip to the eye doctor just to be sure.

Apparently our state has a law that requires all preschools to allow the Department of Public Health to screen the vision and hearing of their students.  Sounds reasonable until it becomes clear that this is an unfunded mandate.  I had to pay this screening fee at the beginning of the school year when money was tight.   (Okay, okay, money is never just flowing around here but you get my point.)   The screening is for 3 to 5 year olds.  But wait, Liam has not turned three yet.  Ahh, but he's in the 2/3 classroom and they figured they might as well test him while the technician was there.

I wasn't crazy about a stranger sitting down with either of my boys.  I trust the teachers at their school implicitly but who is this state-contracted technician and what is her "bedside manner"?  Would their teachers even be in the screening room?  I bit my tongue and went along to get along.  It's our first year in the school and I didn't want to make waves or become known as the hysterical parent.  After all, I've met my share of those in my teaching career.

When Liam failed the vision screening the first time, his teacher assured me that it was probably nothing and that he would be rescreened in three weeks.  I asked if he had passed the hearing screening because whenever I tell him to eat dinner or stop kicking the back of my seat in the car he doesn't respond.  But no, he can hear just fine--they'll recheck the left eye though.  Let me say right now that I've never, ever noticed any visual acuity deficits in Liam.  Since I am nearsighted, though, it's not out of the realm of possibilities.  I anxiously awaited the rescreening date.

Liam was not scheduled for class on that day but my daycare provider, B, dutifully brought him to school anyway.  The technician was nowhere to be found.  She showed up 3 hours later, performed the vision test and promptly failed him.  She then asked B to sit down and discuss the results.  B informed her that she was not the mom but that she would bring all the paperwork to me.  The technician refused to give B the written results until she sat down and listened to what she had to say.   This makes me livid--I believe that the technician violated HIPPA.  She had no right to speak to anyone except ME.  My telephone numbers are readily available on ten different forms in that building, but did I get a call?  Of course, B was uncomfortable with the situation but what could she do?  It was nearing lunch and nap time, she just wanted to get every one of "her" boys home. 

Liam came home with an official Dept. of Public Health form which I was supposed to sign as consent to release his information to state "authorities".  Since when is my toddler's visual acuity a public health issue that needs to be tracked by the government?  I'm a good mom who would never neglect my children's needs--why don't we start with that assumption and work from there?

Fast forward past at least a dozen phone calls to find an eye doctor would see a 2 1/2 year old.  (Try making those phone calls on a teacher's schedule, by the way.)  Most optometrists won't see patients that young and those that will don't have openings for months.  Fortunately, a good friend came to the rescue with a recommendation just when I was about to give up.  I was able to schedule a late afternoon appointment for ten days later.

Today we went to see this wonderful doctor.  As a  mom of four young children, she was the perfect person to examine* my sweet but stubborn toddler's eyes.  And guess what?  She said they were perfect.  Perfect.  She said it three times. 

We hypothesized reasons why Liam failed the screening twice.  We both agreed that there's a good chance he didn't like the technician and/or the activity.  He wanted to be done with the whole thing.  What does a toddler do when he is done (absolutely DONE)?  He says, "I can't" and wriggles away.  Liam is smart.  He told the lady "I can't see it" because he didn't want to play her shape game anymore.  It makes perfect sense. 
In hindsight.

*In order to thoroughly examine a toddler's eyesight, their pupils must be dialated.  This involves spraying a soft mist in each eye fifteen minutes before seeing the doctor.  I held Liam on my lap while the assistant sprayed away.  My boy is quick and after the first puff, he bobbed and weaved side to side like a boxing champ.  Guess whose eyes received the next two sprays?  Good thing it wasn't sunny out or Henry would have had to drive us home!


  1. Oh I'm so glad that's over & Liam passed :)

  2. What an ordeal! And how dare that tech discuss your son's health issues with someone who is not the parent!
    And yes, it makes sense that a toddler whould say something like that to end the test. Glad though that he has perfect eye sight.

  3. Grrr, this whole situation makes me so frustrated for you. I like your little footnote. It's really true about any kinds of testing done in school by "strangers". In the Greater Toronto Area where I live, all grade 3 students take part one of the gifted testing (I'm a grade 3 teacher). If they "pass" stage one, they meet with the school psychologist who does stage two one-on-one with the students. I have known students who should have passed stage two but didn't - only b/c they were uncomfortable being alone in a room with someone they don't know and they wanted to just get out of the uncomfortable situation. It's funny how until you wrote this blog and now that I have a child of my own I wouldn't have even considered any of this - but really, a child needs to be comfortable to work one-on-one with someone in these types of situations. I'm glad Liam is fine.

  4. Cory has his eyes tested at the Peditricians office about a month ago..he passed but the way it is done was bizarre. He had to look into this big box by pressing his forehead to it. If he took his forehead off of the darn thing it would stop and he would have to restart again. He had to look at different objects (like cars, trees, boats, whatever popped up, in varying sizes. He had to tell what they were... He struggled with the telephone because he had never saw that type of phone picture before but he got through it.

  5. I'm so glad Liam's eyes are perfect! That tech? Inexcusable. With an attitude like that, it's no wonder Liam wanted to get away from her.

  6. l just want to know how you can read that little footnote!! I had to squint and move the computer around to read that tiny print. Did Liam choose that font with his young perfect eyes? :)

  7. I don't like that technician either! I don't blame him! Glad he's okay!